Financial Experts Question Central Bank of Liberia Loan, Operational Regulations

Financial Experts Question Central Bank of Liberia Loan, Operational Regulations

A $22.5 million loan and the Central Bank of Liberia’s (CBL) operational guidelines is the cause of the state Senate’s most pressing concern. The Senate Standing Committee on Banking and Currency, Judiciary, Claims and Petition recently called on financial experts to discuss public and private sector central banking ties as they relate to Liberia’s organic law, The Inquirer reported.

The loan was reported to have been allocated to the private sector at the bank’s discretion, which aims to ensure growth in economic balance. The report said that “policy confusion” allows for CBL decisions to override financial institution loan regulations. However, officials are worried that disregarded loan disbursements by CBL may disrupt the country’s internal reserve.

According to The Inquirer, former Finance Minister Prof. Wilson Tarpeh said that in many nations central banks are independent and abide by laws set forth by country lawmakers. In order to reestablish or alter regulations, Liberia officials would need to revise the bank’s establishing Act. Although CBL handles state funds, Tarpeh said the entity does not have total control over the state’s economy.

“How can you manage the monetary policy when you have 90% of monetary transaction not under your control; you don’t have control over the money supply, so this is a fundamental problem. The key issue of this is that CBL manages money supply in the country but to manage it, the variables must be homogenous,” Tarpeh said in the report.

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The Inquirer reported that dual currency is also hindering effective operation. CBL reserves, the report noted must “unify the flow of money.” Carrying out monetary activities using Liberian and U.S. dollars goes against section 5 of the CBL Act which states that transactions are to be performed using Liberian currency. Contrarily, Liberia’s state budget is outlined in U.S. dollars, according to The Inquirer.

“You the lawmakers must decide now either to allow this or not. If this law of 1999 should be respected, you must take the full range of responsibility and to make this meaningful, you must review the dual currency issue,” Tarpeh added.

Liberia is among the world’s 10 fastest growing economies, according to The Inquirer. However, disproportionate borrowing interest rates and deposit gains impact the economy’s growth and the country’s survival as Liberia’s reserves back imports, .

“The domestic saving rate for all banks is negative; when you deposit, they give you 1%, when you borrow money, they say 17% interest rate,” finance minister Byron Tarr said in the report.

Tarr concluded that lending practices of CBL cannot be deemed in violation unless documents prove that the entity has set limitations. Tarr believes crime and unemployment rather is a threat to economic instability, according to The Inquirer.